If Saint-Saëns has been called the French Mendelssohn, in a curious turnabout, Joseph Rheinberger (1839?1901) might be called the German Saint-Saëns. Both composers were accomplished organists for whom the instrument played a major role in their professional careers. Both composers labored in the field of opera, neither, however?notwithstanding Saint-Saëns?s Samson et Dalila with much success. Both composers found their main calling in instrumental, chamber, and, in Saint-Saëns?s case, orchestral music.
Wolfgang Rihm is one of the world's most eminent and prolific composers. His works for violin and piano encompass almost his entire compositional career from Hekton in 1972 to the solo violin +œber die Linie VII in 2006. Each draws on a wide range of influences from folk-like moments embedded quotations and dazzlingly virtuosic episodes. They reflect the breadth of Rihm's various changing styles which are almost unique in today's music in marrying contemporary technique with emotionally powerful resonances.
The music of Peteris Vasks must be considered against the background of the socially and politically turbulent history of his home country Latvia. It frequently shifts through contrasting emotional states, with passages of sumptuous beauty sometimes followed by disjointed and dramatic sounds. According to Vasks, all three of the works for violin and orchestra featured here represent the polarity between optimistic hope for a better future and an anxious concern for the modern world. Included are the fantasia Vox Amoris, the concerto Tala gaisma (Distant Light), Vasks' first and most extensive work for violin and string orchestra and the tone poem Vientulais engelis (Lonely Angel). All are performed by the exceptional violinist Alina Pogostkina, superbly accompanied by the Sinfonietta Riga under the direction of Juha Kangas.
As a musician, as a man of ideals, and as a true world citizen, Yehudi Menuhin made an extraordinary mark on his era. The Menuhin Century commemorates the 100th anniversary of his birth on 22 April 1916. Focusing on material completely new to the catalogue, or new to CD, Unpublished Recordings and Rarities spans more than five decades, and includes Menuhin's first European recordings, made in 1929.
"…As usual, Ancalagon gives us an absolutely first-rate production, superb booklet notes in full color, and some of the best Super Audio surround sound on the market today. I keep insisting that small group chamber music provides some of the best opportunities to show off surround sound, and this disc proves the point. When the music is as brilliant and sparkling as we have here—Bach would certainly be thrilled—there simply remains no excuse under the sun to avoid acquiring this disc immediately. This composer oozes from the souls of these two performers." 5/5 ~Audiophile Audition